"Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!" Winston Churchill
During this bike and boat tour in France, you will pedal through the beautiful Marne River valley and the world famous Champagne region, either beginning in Paris, city of light, or ending there depending on your tour date.
In 2015, UNESCO granted the Champagne area world heritage status! The vineyards, wine cellars, and sale houses where the grapes are grown, stored, and produced are all culturally significant. In fact, there are many sparkling wines but only the wine produced in this region of France with its chalky soil and perfect climatic conditions can be called Champagne.
You will have the opportunity to cycle to boutique wineries, sample a variety of champagnes, taste delicious Brie cheese and generally discover everything that the Champagne UNESCO world heritage region has to offer.
But more than just visiting the Champagne region, you will also have the opportunity to explore Paris, one of Europe’s most beautiful and beloved cities on a full day guided excursion.
City of Meaux, well known for its Brie cheeses
Château-Thierry, the scene of major battles in World War I
Scenery and endless vineyards on the rolling banks of the Marne River
Elodie, 11 day tour Twin cabin: £1527$2,617€1879NOK18320kr16911$2,198
*Twin cabin/single use: on request and offered at 50% of tour price supplement *Limited number, you may book "willing to share" to avoid single supplement on request and based on availability
Zwaantje, 8 day tour Twin cabin: £999$1,712€1229NOK11983kr11061$1,438Twin cabin/single use: £1275$2,185€1569NOK15298kr14121$1,836
Zwaantje Electric bicycle: £77$132€95NOK926kr855$111
Gluten free or dairy free meal, surcharge will apply. Please ask If you would like information on arrival and departure transfers, please ask. Elodie: Electric bicycle: pending Helmet rental: £8$14€10NOK98kr90$12Bike protection for hybrid touring bike: £12$21€15NOK146kr135$18
Special dietary restrictions or request subject to per diem charge: €5
Basic laundry service is available on Elodie, payable on board: £8$14€10NOK98kr90$12
Fly into Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris. (CDG)
Local travel will depend on the boat you are booked on.
Zwaantje: For tour starts in Paris: The Zwaantje will be docked at the Quai de Bercy, along the Seine River near the bridge Pont de Bercy. Station Gare de Lyon is not far from the docking location. To get to Gare Du Lyon from the airport yo can take either an airport shuttle , the RER train, Line B, or a taxi. For tour starts in Epernay:
From CDG, you can take a train to Epernay. Transfers and travel time depend on departure time and type of train.
Elodie information is pending
Please check local conditions before your arrival. Average high/low temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit in the area you will be traveling are: June: 70/54° and July: 75/58°.
In France, it is not mandatory for adults to wear a helmet, however, we strongly recommend bringing your own helmet for proper fit and safety. There will be a limited number available on board. They should be requested in advance. French law now mandates that children under the age of 12 must wear a helmet. Children helmets are NOT available on board, you must bring your own.
The Elodie cannot accommodate Vegan meals.
This is a moderate level tour that is at times challenging with hilly terrain and varied country roads. It is for experienced bikers in good physical condition. The tour is fully guided and every day you will cycle along small country roads (short distances on dirt or semi-paved roads and tracks) that go up and down the hills adjacent to the river valley and through Champagne vineyards. Cycling distances vary from 30–50 km (19–31 miles) per day. You can also cycle self-guided for short stretches if you prefer.
Where You’ll Stay
On the comfort plus boats, the Zwaantje or the Elodie
Aboard the Zwaantje
Accommodation on board for 7 nights
All meals, breakfast, picnic lunch during cycling itinerary,
Coffee and tea on board
Bed linen and towels
Daily cleaning of the cabin
Fully guided cycling tours (1 tour leader)
Some short walking tours
Maps for cycling tours (1 set per cabin)
Bike rental with helmet, lock, and pannier bag
Fees for ferries
Brie cheese tasting in Jouarre
Champagne tasting at local producer
Visit champagne cellar in Epernay
Laundry service available with supplement
Aboard the Elodie
Accommodations on board for 10 nights
All meals, breakfast buffets, packed lunches and 9 dinners
Coffee and tea on board
Bed linen and towels
Climate controlled cabin
Fully guided cycling tours (1 tour leader)
Maps if requested to plan personal itinerary
24-speed hybrid bicycle with pannier, water bottle, and lock
Harbor dues and tourist tax
What’s Not Included
Aboard the Zwaantje
Transfer to/from docking locations in Paris and Epernay
Paris to Epernay Day 1: Arrival in Paris Day 2: Paris - Lagny-sur-Marne, 21 mi. (35 km) Day 3: Lagny-sur-Marne - Meaux, 21 miles (35 km) Day 4: Meaux – La Ferté-sous-jouarre, 22 or 25 miles (35 or 40 km) Day 5: La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry, 32 miles (50 km) Day 6: Château-Thierry – Dormans – Epernay, 19 or 35 miles (30 or 50 km) Day 7: Epernay round tour, 10 or 16 mi. (17 or 25 km); visit Epernay and Champagne houses Day 8: Departure from Epernay
*All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours. If you do not feel like cycling one or more days, you can always relax on board while cruising to the next town. Program and details barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons. If there are 18 or more booked, two tour guides will be riding and on certain days can offer a longer or shorter itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival in Paris Embarkation and check-in at 2 p.m. at the Quai de Bercy on the Seine river in Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader there is time for a walking tour through Paris. After dinner on board there is a first briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.
Day 2: Paris - Lagny-sur-Marne, 21 mi. (35 km) You leave Paris by bike via the canal de l’Ourcq. A bike path leads from the place the la Bastille (close to the mooring place of the Zwaantje), via the basin of la Vilette to the banks of the l’Ourcq. This canal was built by order of Napoleon Bonaparte. The canal provided the city with water and played an important role in the transportation of goods to and from the city. Destination of today is Lagny, a nice little town along the Marne.
Day 3: Lagny-sur-Marne - Meaux, 12 or 22 mi. (20 or 37 km) In Lagny-sur-Marne, you ride, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. In case you opt for the short ride, the first challenge is the hill near Chalifert. The barge will take the tunnel through the hill, but cyclists can test their fitness and muscles for the first time by climbing and crossing the hill by bicycle. Also on the longer option the first part is quite hilly, because you have to leave the valley of the Marne. Later you will follow the small Canal de l’Ourq that was built by Napoleon to transport wood, grain and fresh water to Paris. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux, famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Night in Meaux.
Day 4: Meaux – La Ferté-sous-jouarre, 22 or 25 miles (35 or 40 km) There are a few cycling options today. The shorter option will lead you over the hills and slopes of the Marne valley on the south bank of the river through forests and small villages. The longer option stays in the valley of the river in the morning with a ride through Trilport and Lizy-surOurcq. Later you will have to climb a few challenging hills, leaving the valley in the direction of Jouarre. In Jouarre, all cyclists can enjoy a very nice presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses at the family-run Fromagerie Ganot. Dinner on board and night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or a village nearby.
Day 5: La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry, 32 miles (50 km) Enjoy a somewhat challenging cycling tour from La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre to Château-Thierry. The first part of the cycling track leads you along the Marne river. After a few miles you will take a side valley and follow country roads through various small villages and hamlets. Continue riding uphill until you finally reach the plateau above the northern part of the Marne valley. The side valleys are mainly covered with forest, on the plateau agriculture is predominant. Follow the valley of the small river Clignon. En route you can visit the large WW1 American War Cemetery and Monument near Belleau on the D82. Start your descent to reach Château-Thierry. Dinner on board and night in Château-Thierry. Château-Thierry owes its name to the castle that once was situated on the slopes above the Marne. You can still see some remnants. The town was the site of two important battles: the Battle of 1814 in the Napoleonic Wars between France and Prussia and the Battle of 1918 at the end of World War I. Château-Thierry is also known as the native town of the world-famous writer of fables Jean de la Fontaine.
Day 6: Château-Thierry – Dormans – Epernay, 19 or 35 miles (30 or 50 km) During breakfast the ship will take us to the lock of Mont St. Pierre or even a bit further upstream to Dormans. Today we will enter the official Champagne area. Dormans is a quiet village on the Marne with a castle and chapel in memory of the battle of the Marne. During World War I this area was the scene of intense battles. A ride up the northern valley slope to the village of Châtillon-surMarne rewards the cyclist with a stunning panoramic view over the Marne valley and the Champagne vineyards. During the cycling tour you will see the Château de Boursault, a large castle built in 1848 by the widow of Mr. Cliquot, who gave her name (“Veuve Cliquot”) to a famous Champagne wine. Dinner on board and night in Epernay.
Day 7: Epernay round tour, 10 or 16 mi. (17 or 25 km) The last half day’s cycling tour takes you along the quiet canal parallel to the Marne river to Ay and Mareuil-sur-Ay. Return via Dizy to visit Hautvillers. After a somewhat challenging ascent you will reach this picturesque village of Champagne wine growers on the southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims. Highlight is a visit of the chapel with the tomb of the monk Dom Pérignon (1638-1715). In charge of the wine cellars of a Benedictine abbey, Dom Pérignon pioneered a number of winemaking techniques, being the first to blend grapes in such a way as to improve regional wines into a wine of superb quality. Double fermentation, characteristic for the making of champagne, was introduced also by him. Return cycling to Epernay. After lunch, visit the center of Epernay. Together with Reims, Epernay is the major wine center of the Champagne region, where three extensive wine regions meet: the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne. Epernay has many town houses dating in neo-renaissance style or classical style dating from the 19th century, especially around the beautiful Avenue the Champagne where prestigious champagne houses, such as Moët & Chandon and Mercier, are situated. Enjoy a Champagne tasting and take a tour in one of the major Champagne houses.
Day 8: Departure from Epernay Disembarkation after breakfast by 9:30 AM.
Epernay to Paris Day 1: Arrival in Epernay. Boarding at 2 pm Day 2: Epernay round tour, 10 or 16 mi. (17 or 25 km) Day 3: Epernay - Dormans - Château-Thierry, 19 or 35 miles (30 or 50 km) Day 4: Château-Thierry - La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre, 26 miles (42 km) Day 5: La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Meaux, 18 or 32 mi. (30 or 52 km) Day 6: Meaux - Lagny-sur-Marne, 12 or 21 mi. (20 or 37 km) Day 7: Lagnyo-sur-Marne - Paris, 21 mi. (36 km) Day 8: Departure from Paris
Day 1: Paris, 9 mi. (15 km) Day 2: Paris - Lagny sur Marne, 24 mi. (38 km) Day 3: Lagny sur Marne - Meaux, 28 mi. (38 km) Day 4: Meaux - La Ferte sur Marne (isles-les-Meldeuses), 20 mi. (32 km) Day 5: La Ferte - Chateau Thiery, 25 mi. (41 km) Day 6: Chateau Thiery Friday, 16 mi. (26 km) Day 7: Chateau Thiery - Dormans, 19 mi. (30 km) Day 8: Dormans - Cumiere via Hautvillers, 23 mi. (36 km) Day 9: Cumieres - Epernay, 25 mi. (40 km) Day 10: Epernay
Day 1: Paris, 9 mi. (15 km) Arrival on board the Elodie in Paris where the crew will welcome you with a nice cup of coffee or tea. Introduction to the crew, explanation of the rules on board, information on the program. After the introduction, you will enjoy a short tour along the cycle-paths of Paris. Now you can get comfortable with your bike and make the necessary adjustments. Paris of course is a very busy city but you will be surprised that you can experience a nice cycle trip without being bothered by the traffic.
Day 2: Paris - Lagny sur Marne, 24 mi. (38 km) Through lanes and parks you will "meander" your way out of Paris to get to the river Marne. Along the banks of the river, you cycle towards Lagny sur Marne, passing the "Nestle building". This company, famous for producing excellent chocolate, has situated its headquarters in an extraordinary building. Continuing your tour, you can admire the "outskirts" of Paris with its beautiful houses and green surroundings. You will overnight at Lagny sur Marne.
Day 3: Lagny sur Marne - Meaux, 28 mi. (38 km) Today is a challenging cycling day and you will have a bit of climbing but will be rewarded with nice panoramic views. You will pay a visit to the beautiful sculpture garden of Dhuys. These monuments are made of the remains of the bridge over the Dhuys that was bombed during the second world war. On your way, passing Villeneuve-le-comte, the path leads through the beautiful forest of Guette. The city of Meaux has a nice atmosphere and is famous for its cheese and mustard. Your chef will give you a taste of the culinary highlights of this region. Meaux has a beautiful cathedral and it is worth it to make a nice evening stroll along the river banks of the Marne.
Day 4: Meaux - La Ferte sur Marne (isles-les-Meldeuses), 20 mi. (32 km) Today you visit the ruins of an old Chateaux built by Catherine the Medicis. It is not guaranteed but probably you will be able to have your morning coffee on the estate and get to know more about the history of the Chateaux by the owner. Depending on what is available, you may visit "La Ferme de la Valiere" to taste some of the local products. The story goes that Louis the XVI on his deathbed requested to have a final taste of the Brie the Meaux before he was to close his eyes forever. You will cycle to the locks of isles-les-meldeuses where the Elodie will be waiting for you to take you on a nice two and a half hour boat ride over the river Marne to La Ferte the Jouare for the night.
Day 5: La Ferte - Chateau Thiery, 25 mi. (41 km) Along the Marne, you will cycle deeper into the Champaign region as you will see more and more vineyards. Chateau Thiery is your final destination. It is the city of the great French Poet Jean de la Fontaine, born in 1621, who wrote many famous fables like Le corbeau et le renard ( the raven and the fox). In the evening, you will stroll around the remains of the Castle Thiery, a medieval Castle that was dammaged during the French revolution.
Day 6: Chateau Thiery Friday, 16 mi. (26 km) The Elodie will stay in Chateau Thiery for the day. This will allow you to visit the market in the morning and in the afternoon you can attend the eagle show in the Chateau. Around Chateau Thiery there are many WWI monuments. If you do not care too much for markets, you can join your guide for a bike ride to visit the large WW1 American War Cemetery and Monument near Belleau. On your way back to Chateau Thierry, you will visit Hill 204. This monument is a symbol of the gratitude the French expressed to the Americans for their support in WWI. In the spring of 1918 the Americans troop took part in the "second" battle of the Marne" to stop the German troops from reaching Paris. They succeeded in stopping them and the battle is now considered as one of the turning points in the Great War.
Day 7: Chateau Thiery - Dormans, 19 mi. (30 km) Departing from Chateau Thierry, you leave the river Marne into the valley of the Surmelin to the town of Conde en Brie. In this little town you can visit a duck farm where they make the famous foie grass.Your destination Dorman is a nice small town where you can find the Moulin d’en Haut. This windmill house, located in the park of the castle of Dormans, is also an ecological museum that is dedicated to the daily life of the traditional Champagne region way of life. In the same park you can visit an interesting WWI memorial designed as church for remembrance and very much appreciated by the famous French WWI general Foch.
Day 8: Dormans - Cumiere via Hautvillers, 23 mi. (36 km) In the morning you will visit the snail museum in Try, your first stop. Continuing along the Marne river youncome to the village of Hautviller on top of the hill. Through the vineyards you will reach this picturesque village of Champagne wine growers on the southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims. It will be possible to visit several Champaign houses today. Highlight is a visit of the chapel with the tomb of the monk Dom Pérignon. According to tradition, Dom Pérignon (1638-1715), who was in charge of the wine cellars of the abbey of Benedictine monks, first succeeded in blending various kinds of wine into a wine of superb quality. Double fermentation, characteristic for the making of the most prestigious champagne, was introduced also by him.
Day 9: Cumieres - Epernay, 25 mi. (40 km) This day you will cycle along the grand cru terroirs to the heart of the Champaign region, Epernay. In Bisseuil after a cup of coffee your cycle tour follows a relatively flat terrain until we get to the climb to Avize. The last 500 meters, you will walk to a magnificent viewpoint over the valley. On top of the Hill there is a petanque field where your guide will introduce you to the game of petanque. It is also an excellent place to have lunch while enjoying the view. Cycling back along Cramant and Cuis through the vineyards of Veuve Clicquot and Tattinger, you will have time to visit one or more Champaign houses before we get to Epernay.
ElodieNetherlands, Belgium, FranceComfort Plus Class BoatThe Elodie was built in 1931 and has been completely refurbished into a luxury holiday ship. The ship has a saloon and sundeck and all of its cabins come with air-conditioning. The saloon of the Elodie is furnished in ship-style by using various types of wood in the finishing.
ZwaantjeFrance, Netherlands, BelgiumComfort Plus Class BoatThe MPS Zwaantje, which means "Little Swaan", is a wonderful comfort plus barge. The boat has 10 cabins with twin beds and 2 cabins with double beds. These cabins also have a bunk bed but cannot be used as a triple. Each cabin has private facilities.
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